Friday, June 28, 2019

highs and lows for our last day in amsterdam

amsterdam decided to rain on us for the last full day of our european summer extravaganza. 


normally i love the rain, but this time we were trying to hit up an outdoor farmer's market type thingy for another bucket list item that the old lady had sent me to fulfill.  and so instead of walking there like we'd originally planned, we ended up taking an uber to the albert cuyp street market.  it seemed that most of the vendors were there doing business as usual despite the rain, and there were a good number of folks strolling through the stalls.


i was amused at this sign.  we both took a sample and the cake was indeed very tasty.


i definitely eyed this and a few other stalls that were offering fabric by the yard.  i knew that 1. we didn't have luggage space for any of it and 2. the hub would kill me because my fabric stash at home is already pretty out of control.  still, it was fun to check it out and eyeball the fun designs.


i would have stopped and grabbed some fresh stroopwafels here, but i was on a mission for something in particular.


and the rotisserie chicken at this stall (and the one right next door to it) looked and smelled fantastic, but we continued on right past it.


finally, i saw it.  the old lady had sent me a link to a video on instagram that highlighted these poffertjes - tiny delicious, fluffy pancakes that were served 10 to an order.  we'd drooled over the video multiple times and i was excited to be able to try them for real and report back to her.


so you can order them with butter and powdered sugar, or have them topped with all sorts of fun stuff:


the guy used a special machine that poured the batter right into the little pancake molds:


and then he used two long forks to flip them quickly and expertly when they turned the perfect shade of golden brown.



this is actually two orders - the butter and powdered sugar on the left for the hub, and nutella on the right for me.


they were so good that we went back for another round.  i asked the hub to surprise me with the toppings on the next order, and he went with white chocolate with rainbow sprinkles.  while i'm not a huge white chocolate fan (it's NOT chocolate!), it was still delicious and i still happily shoved each and every one of those little things into my mouth as fast as i could.


while we were there, we decided to stop at another stall to pick up something we'd decided we really needed for the trip home...another suitcase.  heh.  just like the last time we were in europe, we ended up with way more stuff than we'd come with and just didn't have the room in our current luggage situation to get it all home.  and so after we'd selected a new suitcase, we decided to roll it back to the hotel before heading back out for more adventures.  along the way i mentioned that i really wanted to stop at the supermarket and pick up a bunch of fun snacks to take home and share with the kids.  and so that's how i ended up at the albert hejin market, just down the street from our hotel.


the snack aisle did not disappoint.  there were tons of cookies and chips and candy for me to pick from, and i tried to grab stuff that i thought might appeal to everyone that we likely couldn't get at home.



i ended up stuffing a reusable grocery bag with all of the goodies i picked out and then we dropped it off with the new suitcase in our hotel room. 


from there we went around the corner to a coffee shop we'd been trying to get to over the last few days.  coffee me up indeed.


as usual, i went with my iced latte while the hub ordered a double shot of espresso with steamed cream.


once we'd been properly caffeinated, we headed back out (where the rain had stopped and was down to a very light drizzle) and took one last walk through the city, just wandering down random streets and stopping to take pictures here and there.









we'd scheduled our tour of the anne frank house for our last evening in amsterdam, booking our tickets online weeks in advance (there are no walk-ins accepted).  when it was time, we made our way over and got in line.  i don't know what i was expecting, but it wasn't this modern-looking building.


this statue is around the corner in front of westerkirk church.


inside, we were asked to check our backpack at the front desk and then asked to refrain from taking pictures during the tour.  i was a little disappointed because i really wanted to share the pictures with the girls, but i understood and followed the instructions (unlike when we were inside the sistine chapel).  this is all i took the whole time we were in there:


we had headsets that took us through the self-guided tour, and went through the warehouse that hid the secret annex.  the first part of the tour was spent learning about the people who had helped to hide the frank family along with several others who were trying to avoid being sent to the concentration camps.  it was a very solemn place, and with everyone listening intently to the narration there was a peaceful, respectful silence throughout the tour.  there were lots of photographs, documents, and personal items that had belonged to those who stayed in hiding here for over two years.  we went upstairs and then behind the bookcase that had hidden the entrance to the secret annex, and went through the painfully small rooms where eight people spent their days trying their best to live their lives.  they had to stay as quiet as possible, in fear of being discovered and sent to die in the camps.  we all know the story, and how it ended...but actually being there in the place where it had all happened added a whole new layer of emotion and understanding.  i felt myself close to tears the whole time we were there, and then we exited the annex and heard the story of their capture and otto frank's discovery that he was the only survivor.  he had been specific in his request that the annex not be refurbished but left exactly as it was after the nazis emptied it of its furnishings.  only the pictures that anne had pasted on her walls and the markings that showed anne and margot's growth were left.  anne's original diary was on display as well, and looking at it was just so damn sad knowing that she died mere months before the war ended. 

it was such a sobering experience, one i'll never forget.  i'm grateful that we were able to visit, even though it left us both in a somewhat somber and quiet mood for the rest of the evening.  and after picking up a few things in the gift shop and making our exit, we found this sign on the other side of the building.


yelp helped us pick a great spot for our last dinner in amsterdam, a cute little place called black and blue.  we were seated right away and the service and food were wonderful.


and then it was time to head back and get packed for our departure the next morning.


i said this after each stop of our trip, but i really loved our time in amsterdam.  there are so many more places we'd like to explore, so i don't know if or when we'll return, but i sure hope we go back one day.  there isn't really a whole lot for the bean there (at least, not yet), but it would be a blast to take the old lady and her special friend one day.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

hello, i'm a'dam

yelp came in for the assist when the hub went looking for a good spot to have breakfast the next morning.  it was within walking distance, so we got ourselves ready and headed on out. 

although i'm not really much of an art lover, i would have liked to stop in here to look around.  alas, we strode right past it and this picture is all i got.


i'd mentioned to the hub when we arrived in amsterdam that tony geary, AKA "luke" from general hospital, had retired from acting and came to live here full time.  i was low key keeping an eye out for him whenever we went out, and as we got closer to the restaurant we both noticed this man who turned the corner in front of us and strode rather purposefully towards...somewhere.  the hub was marveling at his outfit, and while i was checking out his shoes it occurred to me that i'd probably gotten the tony geary sighting i'd been hoping for.  the man was the right height, had tony's silver hair and even the way he walked was familiar to me.  i hadn't gotten a good look at his face, and i was so distracted trying to figure out if it was him that i didn't get a chance to take a picture until he was almost out of sight. 


still...i'm 97% sure it was him.  another amsterdam level unlocked...yessss.

our restaurant was just up the street from here, and it was super cute and very crowded.  the hostess was really nice though, and seated us at the bar right in front of the espresso station near the door.



there were some really great-sounding cocktails on the menu, but i went with an iced mocha latte instead.


i ordered the "kiwi brekkie," which consisted of two eggs served with bacon and sausage plus potatoes, garlic spinach, a creamy mushroom sauce and buttered toast covered with a housemade tomato relish.  it was so good.


this was the hub's huevos rancheros, and he said it was delicious.


afterwards, we made our way back towards museum row to catch the hop on/hop off boats so that we could cruise through the canals we'd been walking along for the last couple of days.



it was a really lovely day, and there were lots of people out and about taking advantage of the great weather.




another cheesy photo op!  you know i rarely pass these up.


finally, we were on a boat.



just a couple of other boats we saw along the way.



i was a few seconds late snapping this, but it was a cool view while sitting on the boat at water level.


before the boat turned back around, we passed the opera & ballet theater and a big science museum.



we decided to get off at the lookout building.  we'd seen it when we first arrived at the train station and this was the first chance we got to actually go and check it out.


we bought tickets, took the elevator ride up and when we got out, we were treated to this expansive view of the city.




there was a model of the city that told the history of amsterdam in lights and projected text.  it was really cool.


and if you needed to charge your phone, you could place it in one of the charging lockers here.


at the top, you can buy tickets to ride this swing that offered a thrilling view of the city.  the hub tried to talk me into it, but i seem to have developed a bit of a fear of heights in recent years.  no thanks.




we settled for taking pictures instead.





and then we cashed in the tokens that came with our admission tickets for drinks.  more accurately, the hub used the tokens on beer while i ordered a fun "candy shop" cocktail.




we found comfy seats inside by one of the huge windows and enjoyed our drinks while taking in the view.


there was a small window in the floor that gave you a look at what was going on down on ground level.  that fear of heights kicked in again, and the hub had to hold my hand while i stepped gingerly on the glass to take this picture.


once the drinks were gone we were pretty much over it, and we headed back to the elevator to head downstairs and find something else to do.


we spent a little time in the gift shop, goofing around and picking up more souvenirs to take home to the kids.


thanks for the warning.


the hub tried his hardest to score a picture of me at the famous "i amsterdam" sign, but this was the best we could get. 




we hopped back onto the boat and rode it around again until we were back at museum row, and then we got off and walked the short distance back to the hotel.  i got my chance at a nap while he went downstairs to unwind with a cigar, although i was distracted by an episode of my favorite show on one of the channels.


a little while later, we walked down the street to have dinner at the seafood restaurant that was next door to the uptown meat co. that we'd eaten at a couple of nights before.  i opted out of the cocktail and had a flavored sparkling water instead:


we shared an order of shrimp croquettes.  they were delicious, although it seemed to take about four years for them to cool down enough for us to eat them without burning our mouths.


and then we ordered the "fruits de mer royale" platter - all sorts of shellfish served cocktail-style.


this is when i realized that langoustines and giant prawns with the heads still attached actually freak me out a lot.


we were pretty unsatisfied with the terrible service here and ended up passing on dessert in an effort to get the hell out of there as soon as we were done.  it started pouring down rain as we were finishing up though, so we had to wait it out a bit before we could leave.  i'd left our umbrella at the hotel, and neither of us was in the mood to get soaked to the skin. 

when the rain let up a bit, we sucked it up and headed on out, jogging most of the way back to the hotel.  and when my shins started hurting after not even a quarter of a mile, i realized that running isn't happening for me anymore.  how sad.
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